Community Stories

Skating into the 2020 ODR season

December 03, 2020

Red Deer is home to some terrific outdoor amenities; from trails to bike parks, we love to get outside and active.

Winter is no different and is the time of year many of us swap out our running shoes and flip-flops for something a little edgier – skates, to be exact. We, at The City of Red Deer, are hard at work preparing outdoor rinks for the winter ahead.

Weather is the biggest issue we face while preparing the outdoor rink surfaces. Set-up time and ice conditions are all at the mercy of Mother Nature. If temperatures are too warm, our ice melts. If there is too much snow, we have to remove it before we can flood, and, we have to do extra flooding before the ice is thick enough to be safe for skaters.

So how, exactly, do we create 77 ice surfaces for citizens to enjoy? There are four steps to set up each rink.

First - the boards: After the boards are transported from storage to the rink site, it takes 1 to 2 hours to set the boards in place. With many rinks on school grounds, set-up is coordinated around individual school activities.

Second – equipment gates and screen: Installation of the equipment gates and screens happens early in the process to give the frames time to freeze into the ground.

Third – building the ice: After consistent below freezing temperatures, the ice making process begins. If the weather cooperates and the right amount of snow falls, we use snow to help build the ice thickness faster. We do 1200 – 1600 floods just to get all the rinks started.

Fourth – lights and nets: Once the ice is safe for skating, we turn on the lights and place the nets so people know the rinks are open and ready for winter fun.

It might be a bit different on the outdoor rinks this winter as all must follow pandemic safety measures. We ask that you please stay home if you are feeling unwell, or have any symptoms, even mild ones. Come to the outdoor rinks with members of your household only and stay two meters from others. Also know you may have to wait your turn as only 10 people are permitted on the rink at a time.

We are working every day to have these rinks ready as soon as possible.